There is something even more important to your ministry than vision. Don’t get me wrong, vision matters. Vision matters a lot. In fact, it’s crucial. But vision on its own will simply leave you and your church frustrated.
What could possibly be more important than vision? Alignment. What do I mean by alignment? Aiming all of your resources at the target that your vision is calling you to hit.
If you have the best, authentic, God-breathed, inspiring, transformational vision of all-time and are not aligned to it, then you are not going to experience the fruit that God intended the vision to produce. You will be able to see who you are called to be but never be able to get there. You will spend your entire ministry knowing what the Promised Land looks like but never be able to lead your people there.
What’s interesting is that there has been so much focus on the need for vision that almost every church has one. And they all sound pretty similar. They almost all mention the desire to make disciples of Jesus Christ and most of them focus on transforming the world. Unfortunately, many churches have eloquent vision statements that have very little to do with how their budgets, building, and staffing are allocated. That’s because they simply adopted the vision statement without making any substantive changes. That’s the equivalent of telling all of your friends that you are going to run a marathon but never carving out time to run.
In order for churches to actually accomplish the vision they have cast, they must pursue it with reckless abandon. That’s where alignment comes in. Alignment compels churches to do 3 things:
1. Look Inward
Alignment requires leaders to examine everything that they are currently doing and ask the question, “How does this help us reach our vision?” Any energy or resources that are devoted to things that do not move your organization toward achieving your agreed upon vision must be eliminated.
That does not mean that you immediately start cutting meaningful ministries (otherwise the thing that might be cut is your salary). This process requires that you walk alongside the people that you lead and constantly remind them of your agreed upon preferred future. As they begin to grab hold of the vision they will begin to accept the prospect of letting go of things that do not pertain to the vision.
- What event on your church calendar does your staff dred?
- If that event was removed, would your community notice?
2. Let Go
There is a huge difference between people considering eliminating things from your church calendar and actually letting them go (perhaps bringing in Elsa to lead your next meeting would help). The vast majority of church calendars are littered with activities that have long track records but that don’t contribute to the church’s vision. As you strategically and systematically focus your resources toward accomplishing your vision, these types of activities will necessarily be neglected.
Through this process people will be upset. However, as you allow things to fall by the wayside in pursuit of your vision, the people that you lead will be forced to make a decision. Do they go “all in” on the vision that has been set forth or do they leave?
If they leave, as painful as it may be, it is probably the best thing for both them and for your church. Here’s why, the most important thing that you need to bring into alignment with your vision is not your calendar. It’s also not your budget or your building. It’s your people. Letting go allows you to see who is aligned to the vision.
- Who would be the most upset about a program/event/ministry being dropped from your church calendar?
- Would they be upset because letting something go is negative for the community or because they don’t like change?
3. Lock In
Once a faith community embraces the vision that it is pursuing, it is ready to lock in on a few areas of ministry and do them with excellence. No church can be great at everything but every church can be great at something. Alignment gives you the freedom to decide what areas you are going to be known for and then to allocate your best resource toward those areas. Striving for excellence in a few areas will allow you to see extraordinary results in a short amount of time.
- What is your church known for in the community? Is that what you want to be known for?
- What would happen if your church was known for doing what your vision statement says?
If you have a vision that you cannot achieve because you are not aligned to it then you are going to spend your entire ministry frustrated. You will know exactly what you want to do but never be able to reach your goal. Alignment will empower your ministry to go further, faster than you ever imagined possible.